Windows 10 Mobile: the apps I use... and the apps I miss!

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Regular reader Marcus Koebberling posed a good question to me earlier this week: "Which Windows 10 Mobile apps do you actually use (regularly) and/or are pinned to your Start screen? Plus which Android apps do you miss most on your Lumia 950XL?" Which seemed as good a launching off point as any for a June 2017 'state of play' feature for AAWP...

It's a completely fair observation that both Rafe and I use other smartphones than Windows Phone/Windows 10 Mobile in our daily lives. Rafe likes his iPhone, acquired for work and to test iOS stuff, while I'm very happy in the Android world, liking my current ZTE Axon 7 because of the monster Dolby Atmos audio/speakers. Meanwhile, in parallel, we both use a Windows 10 Mobile phone for our secondary SIM (i.e. one SIM for business, one for personal), making sure that we keep abreast of what's new for all platforms, but especially from Microsoft.

Is the only reason why I use the Axon 7 more than the Lumia 950 XL each day down to the speakers? Actually yes, that's at least half the answer, in my case at least. From watching YouTube (a.k.a. bunking off!) to curling up with Netflix in the evenings to sat-nav use in the car, loud and clear speakers on a phone are a favourite feature of mine. In contrast, the only Windows Phone/Windows 10 Mobile phone that's comparable on the audio front is the upcoming IDOL 4S Pro from Alcatel, and even that hasn't been spotted yet, despite numerous launch reports (e.g. here). Yes, the HP Elite x3 has stereo front mounted speakers, but they were quiet and tinny and very definitely disappointing.

But, as I say, that's only half the answer. The other half is that, for me at least, there are a handful of Android applications which just aren't matched on Windows 10 Mobile, even with the best will in the world. But before I get to these, what about the Windows 10 Mobile applications that I do use each day - and, yes, Marcus - are pinned to my Start screen on the Lumia 950 XL?

Steve's Start screen and top apps

In approximate order (and yes, I'll throw in some screenshots):

  • Grover Pro (a UWP podcatcher)
  • Tweetium (a UWP Twitter client)
  • AAWP Universal (a UWP client for All About Windows Phone!)
  • Outlook Mail (set up with my Gmail and accounts)
  • Outlook Calendar (ditto)
  • And then a huge block comprising Microsoft core apps: Phone, Messaging, OneNote, Skype, Photos, Films & TV, Store, Maps, Groove Music, Edge browser, Cortana, People, OneDrive, Alarms, all of which I use daily.
  • Monument Browser (a UWP web browser and with lots of unique features over and above Edge)
  • Netflix (not a UWP app yet, but a WinRT application and works fine, though an update is apparently 'coming')
  • International Snooker Pro (my favourite mobile game - I'm addicted!)
  • Weather (the Microsoft version, set with a double-wide live tile showing a three-day forecast for my home location)
  • FeedLab (a UWP client, keeping track of all the tech news stories building up for me in Feedly)
  • SlimSocial (a UWP Facebook client - I hate the first party app with a passion and this gives me Facebook news from my family ultra-quickly and delivered in a dark theme!)
  • Slack (still in 'beta', a client for the popular team communication service, I use it for some of my other writing work)
  • Google+ (not an app, but a pinned Edge favourite, letting me go straight into what's happening over on Google - there are many ways to pin web pages, but Web Tiles UWP is handy)
  • Google Keep (ditto)
  • GDrive.NET (a UWP giving access to Google Drive and Google Photos)
  • myTube! (a UWP YouTube client, probably the best of the bunch at the moment)
  • Perfect Tube (another UWP YouTube client, because I prefer the interface and keep hoping for updates and fixes!)
  • PayPal (another pinned Edge favourite, my way into my PayPal stored millions hundreds!)
  • Dropbox (a UWP client for the populat file sharing service)

Start screenshotStart screenshot

In hindsight, the above Start selection is relatively modest - I don't use folders at all - I've seen other people's setups with twice the number of applications and games and numerous folders!

Also installed on my main Lumia (but not on the Start screen) are: 1Shot (a UWP Camera app), Audio Recorder Pro (I'm a musician!), B2X-SMARTAPP (the official support application now for all Windows Phone and W10M users), Hitman GO (another favourite game, I'll finish it one day!), KeePassReader UWP (of which more below), Lumia Creative Studio, Office Lens, Perfect Flicker (a UWP Flickr client, though still buggy), Project Studio (a genuine UWP project manager), QR Scanner+, TuneIn Radio, Uber (a UWP client for the private taxi service), Wolfram Alpha (not UWP, but still pretty) and FM Radio (a UWP FM client enabling loudspeaker use under Windows 10 Mobile!)

Bonus link: AAWP's general apps and media apps directories.

Phew. And they say that Windows 10 Mobile has an app gap...

They're right, of course. It just depends what applications you need to use. At which point I need to answer the second half of Marcus's question, above: "Which Android apps do you miss most on your Lumia 950XL?"

Meanwhile, over on Android...

The 'app gap' is evident once you start to go beyond the basics, of course. There are niche apps for Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile, but they may not be the niche apps that you need.

So, on my current Axon 7, in addition to most of the above (or equivalents), I also have, and putting in paranthesised notes about workarounds as I go):

  • Android Auto (a car dashboard, largely voice driven, though Cortana and Maps gets most of the way there on W10M)
  • Asana (a team task manager, we use it a lot on AAWP - there's no first party app for this, or indeed anything UWP)
  • BBC iPlayer (no longer available on Windows Phone or W10M, so you have to use the Edge browser instead)
  • Blockchain (a Bitcoin wallet, this can be used via Edge)
  • Flickr (a first party client)
  • Flightradar24 (has to be used under Edge browser on W10M)
  • Keep (the first party, i.e. Google, official client)
  • Hangouts (ditto)
  • Keepass2Android (a Keepass 2 client, for my cloud-synced secure database, nothing quite as capable on W10M)
  • Lloyds Bank (a first party banking app, this has to be done through the Edge browser yet again on W10M)
  • PayPal (a native, first party client, and biometric-enabled, yet again you have to use the Edge browser on W10M)
  • Amazon Prime Video (a pain to get on an Android phone, but it does work - there's currently no way to view this content by any means under W10M)

Everything else on my Android phone is already in the Windows 10 Mobile list above in similar form (e.g. mail clients, browsers)

So... a dozen applications that work much better (or only exist) on Android, though there's not really a showstopper among them. Asana might be, since there isn't a web version that works properly in Edge, but Asana isn't a must-have in my workflow these days. Using the Android applications above is basically about convenience - being able to get into my mobile banking with a couple of screen taps rather than six or seven, being able to access Keep or Flightradar24 or PayPal without interminable screen redraws in a browser, and so on.

It all depends then - how long is your list of things that would be/are easier on iOS or Android? And how far do they offset against some of the things you love about Windows 10 Mobile (Start screen, good imaging, Continuum, landscape mode, desktop familiarity, etc.)?

Comments welcome!